Monday, July 28, 2014
After a convincing win on the previous evening, the ‘Case’s’ Somerset Rebels got off to the worst possible start in their return fixture with the Plymouth Devils at the St Boniface Arena on Saturday night (July 26), writes Dave Thompson.
With both sides at full strength, the Rebels knew that this encounter would be somewhat harder than the task they had faced on the previous evening, but they could not have expected to be under such heavy pressure so soon after the start of the match. Had it not been for two early shared heats, the situation could have been so much worse.
Heat 1 took a couple of attempts to get underway, following a fall on the first turn by Charles Wright. Wright had trapped smartly alongside the Devils pairing of Ben Barker and Kyle Newman, but found himself the meat in the sandwich as they reached the turn. He got squeezed up entering the bend, with the contact causing him to lose control and almost high side before he fell. In the restart, he was again quickly away, but had no answer Kyle Newman’s flying start, with Ben Barker close up. Once at the head of affairs the Devils team rode the Rebels out of the race.
Heat 2 also had to be restarted, when Paul Starke hit the dirt in the turn. This time the Rebels man was excluded after the race continued until being stopped as Stake was still on the track with the riders heading back to the turn. Second time around Todd Kurtz hit the front as soon as the tapes rose, and was never troubled after beating off the early challenge from Sam Simota.
Another 5-1 followed for the Devils, with Rasmus Jensen and Josef Franc getting the better of a level break. Once the pair headed the field at the turn, they put on a superb display of team riding to block out Brady Kurtz and Pontus Aspgren. Franc just took the win from Jensen right on the line.
Sam Simota was quickly off the line in Heat 4, with Olly Allen close up. The pair raced to the second turn together, with Allen trying the wide line into the back straight. As they reached the third turn there wasn’t much in it, until Simota drifted across the Rebels skipper, and blocked him out as they ran into the fourth bend. James Wright had made a poor start, but closed down Paul Starke on the first couple of laps, until his machine gave up the ghost and he retired on the final lap.
The Devils increased their lead further in Heat 5, when Josef Franc and Charles Wright contested the early running. Franc got the better of Wright into the turn, but the Stockport born racer had the better of the back straight, only to see Franc come back through to lead around the wide line off the final turn of the lap. Nick Morris had made a slow start, but was all over Rasmus Jensen at the back, trying every line possible to find a way by. At times the pair were side-by-side, but it was Jensen who came out on top, with Morris at the rear, but it was not for the want of trying.
The Rebels were hit with another 5-1 defeat in Heat 6, when Olly Allen hit the front from the tapes, only to drift very wide off the second turn, and see the Devils duo cut back up his inner and grab the two leading spots. Allen pressed hard for the next couple of laps, but despite his efforts he couldn’t find a route back to the front as Newman and Barker gave him little opportunity to find a gap.
Garry May took the ‘Black and White’ from his pocket in Heat 7, handing it to Brady Kurtz to do the business. For their part, the Devils countered the move by replacing James Shanes with Sam Simota, who has been scoring freely at the SBA in recent weeks. Kurtz made the gate, leading up to the turn, with Simota, and Pontus Aspgren close by. Simota stuck it out wide, and powered around the fence in the opening turns, to lead onto the back straight. Once at the front he established a good lead, and one which neither Kurtz nor Aspgren had any answer too. The final outcome gave the Rebels a slender 3-5 advantage.
As quickly as the Rebels had closed the gap, albeit by only a couple of points, then the Devils increased it again by taking another maximum advantage in Heat 8. Kyle Newman made a rapid exit from the tapes, with Charles Wright and Paul Starke close up. As they ran onto the back straight, Wright was pressing hard on the outside, just as Newman drifted wide. Wright found the gap closing rapidly, and had to shut the throttle or acquaint himself with the back straight fence. It wasn’t a malicious move on Newman’s part, purely a racing incident that could just as easily have been the other way round. Having said that Wright’s challenge was done with from that point forwards. Paul Starke battled it out with Simota for second place, until the Devils reserve got the better run, and joined Newman at the front.
The ‘Black and White’ came out again in Heat 9, with Olly Allen being the person nominated to do the job. As the tapes rose he made a superb start, hitting the front straight away, with Rasmus Jensen in his wake. Behind the pair, Todd Kurtz and Josef France were swapping places, with Kurtz the eventual winner of that particular battle. Allen continued to lead, until a he left a gap up his inner at the start of the second lap, allowing Jensen to take advantage onto the back straight. Allen pressed hard, but couldn’t find a way back to the front before the flag fell, and the Rebels had to make do with another 3-5 advantage.
History repeated itself in Heat 10, as the Devils immediately bounced back with another 5-1. The race took three re-starts before it was completed, the first being called after Pontus Aspgren led up with Brady Kurtz and Ben Barker contesting second spot In a tight first bend, Barker hit the dirt, and the referee called all four riders back to the start. That restart was called back after Kyle4 Newman got an absolute ‘flyer’, causing Willie Dishington to immediately flash the red lights, and bring them back for re-start number two. Barker made a very fast getaway, and looked to have jumped the start in the second rerun, but this time the referee let it go. The outcome was that Barker led into the turn, with the remaining three close up. Running down the back straight there wasn’t much in it, and as they approached the third turn, Brady Kurtz moved to the outside, coming hot into the turn. With space pretty tight on the outside, Kurtz ran out of room, and ended his race in a heap at the foot of the air fence, and was excluded from the third and final rerun. Kyle Newman made the gate, with Barker and Aspgren close up. Aspgren made a neat inside pass on Barker on the third turn, and looked to have sealed the place, but Barker had other ideas, and charged hard under the smooth Swede as they entered the second lap. Aspgren chased him hard to the finish, but could not find a way to repay the compliment.
Heat 11 saw little action after the start, when James Wright, unseen by the referee, appeared to be moving when the tapes rose. The result was that he led into the turn, and was never really troubled by the pursuing Rebels pairing of Charles Wright and Nick Morris, who shared the points.
Heat 12 was also shared, when Sam Simota got the better of a level break as they ran onto the back straight. Todd Kurtz was close up, and the pair swapped places a couple of times before the lap was done. Over the next couple of laps, Brady Kurtz hit the high line, and charged around the fence, in an attempt to close the gap on Simota, but in the end the Czech had too much in hand on the Rebels duo, and he took the win ahead of Todd Kurtz.
The Rebels finally had some joy in Heat 13, with Nick Morris and Olly Allen blasting from the gate top lead up. Ben Barker threw in a challenge on Allen inside the final two bends of the lap, but the Norwich man had him covered all the way. Barker switched his attentions to the outside line on the second circuit, but again to no avail, with the Rebels duo holding him off with some comfort, with only a slight lock up from Olly Allen, on the final bend of the race causing any concern at all. Despite this the visitors posted a 1-5 advantage to give themselves a slender chance of posting a league point, as long as they posted maximums in the final two heats.
The Rebels looked to have kept the chance of taking a league point alive, with a rapid start to Heat 14. Pontus Aspgren led from the tapes, with Todd Kurtz, who was in for Paul Starke, lying in second. Kurtz continued behind Aspgren, until Rasmus Jensen slid through on his inside of the fourth turn. Kurtz kept the pressure on, and threw down a challenge of his own a lap later, but Jensen held him off, and despite the Rebels heat advantage, the league point was gone.
The nominated heat saw the home side track Ben Barker and Sam Simota, whilst the Rebels sent out Nick Morris and Brady Kurtz. Morris and Barker hit the front from the tapes, with Barker getting over the top of Morris into the turn, clamping him to the kerb, before running wide out of the second bend. Kurtz was running in third place, with Simota pressing hard. Kurtz had no answer to the Devils man as they ran back to the line for the first time, with Simota putting in a good run down the home straight. Simota closed down Morris over the next couple of laps, but never got close enough to get in a blow. The resulting 4-2 advantage gave the home side a 54-40 victory on the night.
In the final analysis there wasn’t much between the teams in terms of last places run, with the Devils having 7, and the Rebels 8, but the Devils benefited in the fact that most of theirs were run in races where the points were shared, with the Rebels unable to capitalise by taking advantages in those heats. That was underlined by the number of heat wins posted by the home side, who provided 12 of the 15 heat winners.
Sam Simota top scored for the Devils, with a superb 14+1 from the reserve berth, whilst former Rebels Kyle Newman topped his night with a magnificent paid maximum of 11+1. The Rebels top man was skipper Olly Allen, who’s 9+1 must have been some consolation after his two previously difficult nights at the SBA. His main support came from Todd Kurtz with 7+1.
The Rebels now have a day off, before embarking on the second half a marathon run of seven matches in 11 days, which starts with the July 28, Sky TV televised meeting away at the Owlerton Stadium, where they take on the Sheffield Tigers. From there they head back to the Oak Tree Arena for two home matches, firstly on Tuesday, again against Sheffield, and then on Friday, when Ipswich are the visitors, before heading to the East of England Showground, Peterborough, for the Premier League Four Team Championship.
Plymouth Devils – 54
1. Ben Barker - 3, 2*, 2*, 1, 3 = 11+2
2. Kyle Newman - 2*, 3, 3, 3 = 11+1
3. Josef Franc - 3, 3, 0, 0 = 6
4. Rasmus Jensen - 2*, 1, 3, 2 = 8+1
5. James Wright - R, 0, 3, 0 = 3
6. James Shanes - 1*, 0, 0 = 1+1
7. Sam Simota - 2, 3, 3, 2*, 3, 1 = 14+1
Somerset Rebels ¬- 40
1. Nick Morris - 0, 0, 1*, 3, 2 = 6+1
2. Charles Wright - 1, 2, 0, 2 = 5
3. Brady Kurtz - 1, 4^, Flx, 1*, 0 = 6+1
4. Pontus Aspgren - 0, 1*, 1, 3 = 5+1
5. Oliver Allen - 2, 1, 4^, 2* = 9+1
6. Todd Kurtz - 3, 0, 1*, 2, 1 = 7+1
7. Paul Starke - Flx, 1*, 1 = 2+1
SCB Referee: Willie Dishington
Heat 01: Barker, Newman, Charles Wright, Morris. 51.31 5-1
Heat 02: Todd Kurtz, Simota, Shanes, Starke (Flx). 51.31 (3-3) 8-4
Heat 03: Franc, Jensen, Brady Kurtz, Aspgren. 51.47 (5-1) 13-5
Heat 04: Simota, Allen, Starke, James Wright (Ret). 51.82 (3-3) 16-8
Heat 05: Franc, Charles Wright, Jensen, Morris. 52.22 (4-2) 20-10
Heat 06: Newman, Barker, Allen, Todd Kurtz. 52.00 (5-1) 25-11
Heat 07: Simota, Brady Kurtz (Tactical), Aspgren, James Wright. (3-5) 28-16
Heat 08: Newman, Simota, Starke, Charles Wright. 51.72 (5-1) 33-17
Heat 09: Jensen, Allen (Tactical), Todd Kurtz, Franc. 52.43 (3-5) 36-22
Heat 10: Newman, Barker, Aspgren, Brady Kurtz (Flx). 51.84 (5-1) 41-23
Heat 11: James Wright, Charles Wright, Morris, Shanes. 51.86 (3-3) 44-26
Heat 12: Simota, Todd Kurtz, Brady Kurtz, Franc. 51.97 (3-3) 47-29
Heat 13: Morris, Allen, Barker, James Wright. 51.62 (1-5) 48-34
Heat 14: Aspgren, Jensen, Todd Kurtz, Shanes. 51.34 (2-4) 50-38
Heat 15: Barker, Morris, Simota, Brady Kurtz. 51.31 (4-2) 54-40